2013: Reads of the Year – Calum Gardner

Paula Meehan Dharmakaya (Carcarnet, 2000)

Seeing Meehan read at the StAnza poetry festival in St Andrews in March prompted me to investigate her work in more detail; a picture of contemporary Irish writing is really incomplete without her. The sequences “On Poetry” and “Suburb” from this collection are particularly impressive, showcasing her great formal and intellectual abilities as well as her observational and reflective powers.

Wayne Koestenbaum My 1980s and Other Essays (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2013)

I was in California this summer and every bookshop I went into seemed to have this on its ‘staff picks’ table, and for good reason, as Koestenbaum manages to be deeply well-read and theoretically sophisticated while still utterly compelling and readable on topics from Roberto Bolaño to internet pornography.

Susan Sontag As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Diaries 1964-1980 (Penguin, 2013)

The second volume of Sontag’s diaries to be published (in relatively affordable paperback), this is a really engaging and enjoyable range of everything from aphorisms and musings to some really quite thorough analyses by one of the twentieth century’s finest critical minds; the section dealing with her travels in Vietnam is particularly worth a look.

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